After a hectic ‘Destination Wedding’ at Shillong we made our way to Kaziranga on 31 Oct. Normally ‘Kaziranga Forest Reserve’ is open to the public from 01 Nov every year; however this year they had opened the reserve a month earlier. We left Shillong around 11 AM and reached our guest house around 6 PM. The children stayed at ‘Wild Grass Lodge’. November to April is the best time to visit Kaziranga Park.
Kaziranga National Park is the oldest park in Assam covering an area of 430 Sq kms along the river Brahmaputra to the North and the Karbi Anglong hills to the South. Kaziranga National Park is one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by human presence. It is inhabited by the world's largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, water buffalo, panthers, hog, swamp, gaur and sambar, bears, and varieties of birds. The land is quite level all over the park, which is mainly covered by dense and tall elephant grass due to its flood-plain ecosystem. Located in the Brahmaputra Flood Plains of Assam, the park is prone to annual floods. During the monsoon season the rising water levels of the Brahmaputra and water flowing down from Karbi Anglong and Naga Hills through various rivers and streams inundate the low lying areas of Kaziranga. The normal inundation is important for maintenance of floral and fauna diversity in the park. The floods also recharge the water bodies and improve soil fertility.
The Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros is the species that Kaziranga was established to protect and this species continues to be the focus of management and anti-poaching activities at Kaziranga. As a result, it harbours the single largest concentration of this species and its numbers today stand at around 1855.
One has the choice of selecting a particular range for the safari and rides. Central Range, Western Range and Kalapahar located at Kohora and Eastern Range from Bokakhat. It is better to discuss with the hotel staff and the tourism department and then select the ranges for your rides. We were recommended to visit the Western and the Central Ranges both by Elephant and Jeep, Eastern Range only by jeep.
The best way to negotiate the park is either by jeep safari or elephant rides. Jeep safaris run both in the morning and evening, whereas the elephant ride is undertaken in the mornings only. One needs to book seats in advance. I preferred the elephant ride as it takes you closer to the animals. The elephants happily trample the tall elephant grass and take us just meters away from a rhino. The grass is such a good cover that a rhino might be standing twenty feet away from you and you would not know it. However, the jeep travels a larger area and the chances of sighting other wild life are greater. One morning we stopped at a ‘Tiger Corridor’ for a long time hoping to catch a glimpse of the exclusive ‘Royal Bengal Tiger’. The cacophony generated by the monkeys and the deer was very indicative of its presence.
Carry a good camera with zoom to capture these enchanting animals as they stroll lazily in the plains. Go on as many rides and safaris as possible, it increases the chances of sighting wild life. In any case the main purpose of the visit is to sight wild life and enjoy what nature has to offer.
DRDA Guest House at Oriole, a government of Assam property, where we stayed was extremely homely and comfortable. Every evening we joined the children at ‘Wild Grass Lodge’ for dinner. The dining and the sitting area are large and well ventilated with a high ceiling. There is lots of space around the lodge for the children to run around. The food is reasonably good considering its location.
Watching a rhino in the wild is a different experience all together. The rhino has a thick, almost sculptured hide and reminds one of the armour that the knights of old would wear. They are far more peaceful than the hippo and may threaten to charge only if their young ones are with them. We saw one pregnant rhino, too huge to move, wallowing in a tiny body of water. She was not at all bothered by our presence and calmly continued wallowing.
However it was a different story with Akhila. As their jeep was underway, a huge rhino crossed over to the road from the under bush and was extremely agitated to find a jeep within her imaginary safety arc. The rhino immediately assumed an attack posture,ready to charge. The jeep driver fully aware of the consequences quickly reversed the vehicle and withdrew to a safe distance.
Rhinos graze and roam around in the river plains with utmost ease and confidence, knowing full well, no danger lurks in the high grass. Except old age, flooding from river Brahmaputra and unscrupulous poaching they have very little to fear.
I now leave you to enjoy a bit of Kaziranga through my lens.
|Riverine flood-formed lakes known as, Beels|
|Totally silent and eerie|
|A lone Hog deer|
|A lone rhino|
|Shubs at the watch tower|
|By the lake|
|Boat used for river navigation|
|Another hog deer|
|Finally the sun sets|
|A lone elephant|
|Adjutant Stork on the tree top|
|A pregnant rhino waiting for her day|
|Taking her massive weight off in the pond water.|
|Herd of water buffaloes|
|Nair Sudhi and Jai|
|A rhino appeared from no where|
|Some more deers|
|A lovely sight of water body|
|A herd of elephants|
|Enjoying the moment|
|You cannot get any closer|
|A fascinating animal|
|The armoured plated rear|
|A close up|
|After a lovely dinner at the Wild Grass|
|The whole family|
|Really a royal animal|
|At the entrance|